NSW Farmers has welcomed the Federal Coalition Government's commitment to ensuring competition laws remain effective in Australia with the release of draft terms of reference for a root and branch review of Australia's competition law.
NSW Farmers' president Fiona Simson said the draft terms released by Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson provided a positive start in a much-needed resetting of Australia's competition policy.
"Changes in the Australian economy have seen the major supermarkets flex their market power to the disadvantage of farmers," she said.
"This follows trends in the UK which have placed unprecedented pressure on farm business viability, particularly in the dairy industry.
"In the long run these trends will not only impact on farmers, but also impact on consumer's choice.
"Farmers are also facing less competition for their grain as some grain traders withdraw from the NSW market due to GrainCorp's monopolistic grain handling and storage business and the risks and costs they face as a result.
"We believe that the broad nature of these terms of reference will enable reform to competition laws with the powers of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission better placed to deal with anti-competitive behaviour.
"The draft terms also signal the need to examine whether industry codes provide effective protection for small business in particular the Horticulture Code of Conduct which enables rogue traders to deny fruit and vegetable growers the full value of their produce," she said.
Through its relationship with the National Farmers Federation and other farming and horticultural representative organisations, NSW Farmers has begun building a case for reforms to competition law.
Ms Simson said the association had committed to working with the Federal Government to see the implementation of reforms that would not only provide durable economic growth to Australia, but ensure that this growth is not captured by a handful of big businesses across the value chain.
NSW Farmers Business Economics and Trade, Horticulture and Dairy Committees are reviewing the proposed Food and Grocery Code to provide guidance to the government on its suitability to the farming industy.